Fruits Basket Fan Fiction ❯ Seasons of Sorrow ❯ Memories of Spring = The Paths in Life...Graduation ( Chapter 33 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

DISCLAIMER: Furuba's treasure belongs to Takaya-sensei forever and ever and ever and ever…
33) Memories of Spring - The Paths In Life…Graduation
The paths in life
Are not what I thought them to be
How I imagined them to be
Are not what I believed them to be…
`Perfect, just perfect. Can I ever get a break from the lout?' With irritation clearly in his eyes, Yuki sighed heavily as he gazed through the clump of trees at the two people laughing with one another as they stood by a nest of trees located on the other side of the swing set. Both too lost in their own conversation to notice him, he unconsciously slumped his shoulders forward, bearing an invincible burden too great for eyes to see.
`There goes my one wish for today. Why did I ever think that he'd actually just go straight to school without her? God, my mind has no sense in the morning…' Rubbing his right eye irritably with the palm of his right hand, he let out a frustrated sigh as he squared his shoulders once more, lifting the invincible weight so that he may stand erect and face the situation as calmly as he could with a soft smile of gratitude for Tohru who waited so patiently for him. That would have been his mindset, except that now he saw the situation twist into something less than welcome.
It was at this point that he overheard their hushed conversation as Kyo mentioned how he viewed her attire. He saw the dark blushes across both their faces, darkening even more so when Kyo suddenly presented an unexpected gift to her.
Yuki scarcely blinked…his smile gradually diminishing, his heart beating to a slow rhythm, hands clenched to the sides, one holding the gift bag tightly. He barely breathed as he felt his body completely still itself, almost as if time itself had stopped for him at this moment. It's incredible how the good times always seem to fly by before one takes notice—the same however could not be said of the more distressing times… He saw everything transpire at an extremely slow rate, from the necklace being graced around her throat to hearing the soft whispers the two shared with one another.
Her surprise…her soft gaze…her smile…her acceptance of the gift…her declarations… He watched them all given freely away to another.
Never, never had his longing to be in Kyo's position was felt more acutely than at that point in time.
How many times had he wished for it back when his world consisted of walls and dark shadows? He had reached out time and again to all avenues that were available, not many at that. All he got for his troubles was brotherly rejection…a mother that saw fit to `sell' him to another…a nonexistent father…Akito's `lessons' that were well taught. Yet with each instance, he dreamt of a red-orange haired boy close to his age, living a life so free of the eerie world that had surrounded the young nezumi.
He even went so far as to reach out to the neko back then. Were they not both cursed with the Jyuunishi legend…both yearning to be free from its cage? Surely this was reason enough for the neko to allow him to share in the light he practically bathed in. A beautiful light full of hope and wonder that was called freedom…well, as close to freedom as a Jyuunishi member could hope to enjoy.
However, it was again ruthlessly denied to him, having only received passionate cries of hatred to his person for daring to reach out…all because of his zodiac sign. It was then he truly realized that his Zodiac proved to be a curse both outside and within the Jyuunishi. It was indeed a long time that passed before he could look at himself in the mirror without seeing a hated rat staring right back at him.
Still, this nezumi was if anything tenacious…fiercely so. He continued to strive to attain the far-reaching goal of `freedom' the neko enjoyed. The freedom to simply be a child and not some commodity that could be stowed away out of sight and mind. To be important enough to be cared about by those closest to him. Hell, he wanted to matter for something…anything…
Kyo may not have realized the glory that his life held, but it was precious drops of water to Yuki whose thirst for such a life knew no bounds. Wishing…hoping…praying…begging to be in the cat's position for just a moment. If only to feel the caresses of a father figure…if only to have the leeway to just have a friend. If only to feel important enough that someone would care if he lived or died.
The more he dwelt on these memories of longing, the more he felt the air in his lungs not reaching the cells in his body. It was oppressive…so much so he felt the distinct stinging in his eyes. Either due to lack of blinking or lack of air, Yuki wasn't certain. Yet, deep in his mind, he knew it to be so because of one thing.
There were reasons why he had his heart carefully tucked away in the deeper recesses of his mind. The last embers of hope and resolve were very few indeed. His figuratively abused heart just couldn't last through another traumatic event, such as what he's had to endure during his childhood. He just didn't have the stamina anymore…he was tired. He was very tired.
So, here in the mental vault his mind afforded, his heart was kept safe, emerging every so often to relish in the love and friendship he felt with his family and friends. The risks that came with laying his heart out in the open were still there, but he had to take the chance. To not do so would mean to not live at all…and isn't that what freedom was all about—to live to take the chance?
And he took this chance today…resulting in the state he was now in. Inert, shocked…saddened. It was upon seeing the close intimacy between Kyo and Tohru that Yuki distantly heard the sharp crack in his heart as he felt one small piece of it flutter to the dark abyss that always surrounded his mind. The dark cavern that held the echoes he still carried within from years past that cried out to be heard…to be recognized…to be wanted.
`To have what he has, to feel what he feels. If only this once…please…'
Suddenly brought out of his trance, Yuki immediately looked down to the now empty hand that once held the bag. Absent-mindedly he had wandered far away from the tree line he was at to the long walkway that circled the entire park. Horrified to see the broken contents of his bag splayed all over the sidewalk for the wandering eye to see, he quickly crouched down to his hands and knees.
`Oh God, please don't let them see me! Don't let them see any of this!' he pleaded inwardly as he shoved the broken contents back into the bag. Breathing heavily through his mouth, he licked his very dry lips, desperately trying to hide the stab of pain evident in his eyes but at the same time, trying to keep his calm demeanor so as not to alert the others of his distress. `No, I won't let them see me like this. They can't see me like this…they just can't.'
Eyes wide with alarm at their close proximity, he hurriedly crammed all the broken shards into the bag, ignoring the cuts and scratches to his fingers as well as the throbbing of his knees since they landed on hard concrete. `I have to clean this mess! I have to hurry! Please, don't let them see this.' Absently sniffling, he willed away the hurt in his heart and swallowed the hard lump in his parched throat, pressing his lips into a thin line. Grimly he heard Kyo's irate voice over Tohru's soft voice call out to him across the walkway.
“What the hell?” snapped Kyo when he approached the crouched nezumi. `Damn it all…he just had to ruin everything. What the hell does he think he's doing?!'
“Yuki-kun, are you okay? Do you need help?” asked Tohru anxiously as she walked hurriedly to reach Yuki on the floor.
“Stay back!” cried out the youth sharply, frightening the young lady to a halt. Eyes widening even further at his folly, he immediately remarked in a more sedate tone, “Go-gomen ne…I just meant that these shards are very sharp. I don't want you to hurt yourself, so please, stand back.”
“Oh…um, okay.” Taken aback at his previous outburst, Tohru was too stunned to say much else, although that didn't stop her companion from voicing his opinion. Rather loudly, too.
“Damn rat, what the hell is your problem?! She was wanting to help out, not that you deserved it,” seethed Kyo in bitter anger at Yuki yelling at Tohru so suddenly as well as for ruining his early private moment with the young lady in question.
“Kyo-kun, he didn't mean it. It's all right,” implored the lady to his side.
Ignoring Tohru's gentle protests, Kyo replied to her, “No it's not! First he makes you wait for him, then he bites your head off when you try to help him.” Turning to glare at Yuki's still crouched form on the ground, he bit out while angrily pointing at him, “Look kuso nezumi, if you have some damn chip on your scrawny shoulder, take it up with someone who can take it. Otherwise, leave Tohru out of it!”
Oblivious to the neko's irate comments, Yuki slowly deposited the last few shards of the gift into the bag. Listless eyes took in nothing before its gaze, not even the cuts on the hands handling the last few shards. His mind simply retreated once again to the dark corners of his memory, the one intimate scene replaying over and over in here.
`She never rejected him before. She never made it a secret that she always favored the cat in that story. Why should it surprise me so much now to see her respond to him? She accepts the cat so openly…did I ever stand any chance at all? I am the rat after all, whether I like it or not. Maybe if I had anticipated this, it wouldn't hurt as much. Why didn't it ever occur to me? How stupid of me...'
Closing his eyes to the replayed memory, he licked his dry lips once more and swallowed back the bile that was slowly making its way up his throat. But the mind is a wondrous piece of work and quite obstinate in how it handles itself. Thus was Yuki's passing realization as the memory came back in full force in all its glory. Try as he might, he just couldn't help but feel the dark ice prick his heart with each beat of the organ. Feeling the deep ache in his chest and abdomen, he breathed in heavily and breathed out softly so as not to let the other two know of his sorrow.
`Why? Why does it feel so cold all of a sudden?' Rubbing her arms absently, Tohru abruptly kneeled down to Yuki's level. Touching his arm gently, she asked tentatively, “Ano, Yuki-kun…is everything all right? These shards are sharp…please, don't hurt yourself.”
“Tohru, you'll hurt herself. Some shards are too small to be seen…you can cut your knees,” blurted out Kyo worriedly as he grabbed a hold of her arm, intent on pulling her up from the ground.
Slipping her arm out of his grasp, she replied kindly, “I'm fine, Kyo-kun. Arigatou. Yuki-kun, please let me take the bag at least. I don't want you getting hurt.”
`If she only knew…' he thought, inwardly smiling wryly at that remark. Ignoring her insistence, he wrung the bag tightly to seal in its contents. Pressing his lips firmly, he closed his eyes momentarily and braved the situation before him.
Worried at his continued silence, Tohru remained planted next to the quiet youth, silently pondering. `How strange. It seems so much colder when I'm around him…but…that's not possible. Is it?' Clearing her throat, she stammered in her reply, “Yu-Yuki-kun…ano…I mean…”
“Gomen nasai. I was lost in my own thoughts for a minute there. Must be all the excitement that's in store for us today. It's not everyday I get to give a graduation speech for all eyes and ears, ne?” responded Yuki with a wide smile. Standing up gracefully, he shifted the bag to his other hand and remarked, “Don't worry about having to carry the bag. I just passed by a trashcan when I came here to pick you up. I can dump it there.”
And just as suddenly it was felt, the cold snap dispersed, leaving nothing in its wake. Stunned that it had happened so rapidly, she stood up hastily and stared all around, second-guessing herself. `What…what just happened? It was cold just a minute ago…'
“Well, let's go then. Geez, baka nezumi, we're late because of you!” replied Kyo, annoyed at their continuing dallying in the park. Turning to Tohru, he softly smiled and asked, “Hey, snap out of it. We can't be late.”
Bringing herself out of her reverie, she looked to the red-orange haired youth next to her and smiled in response. “Certainly. You're right. Yuki-kun? Are you ready as well?”
Opting to stare at the walkway, Yuki began walking away with his head held high. Turning his head sideways, he remarked, “Hai. Let's do hurry. I am sorry for making you wait.”
She soon caught up with him, a scowling Kyo in tow. “No, it's okay. I didn't mind waiting. I'm so glad we could share our routine one last time. Another memory for us to keep with us always, ne?”
Feeling her hand in his, Yuki looked down to the eyes that held all the hope in the world for him. A hope that currently sent jabs of pain to his heart. What else could he do or say?
“Hai…a memory to cherish always,” he whispered gently with a poignant smile gracing his lips.
Not keen on seeing the shared moment between the two next to him, Kyo scowled further and let out an exasperated sigh. It was only then that he suddenly remembered an important detail.
“DAMMIT! You spiked my food, ya damn rat!” declared the youth angrily while glaring heatedly at Yuki.
“Hmph, did you have a problem this morning, baka neko?” asked the gray-headed youth, slightly smirking as he walked ahead.
“Son of a…BASTARD!!!! Then it was on purpose!” cried out in rage Kyo.
“Pity it didn't do more,” remarked Yuki dryly as he came to a trashcan and dumped the bag there.
“YOU DAMN SON OF A BITCH!!! GET YOUR TIGHT LITTLE ASS HERE RIGHT NOW!!!!!! FIGHT ME LIKE A MAN, COWARD!!!!!” screeched Kyo as he stood still in his place, ignorant of the presence of others walking by. He also failed to notice that his heated words, that drove any person in his vicinity away, were thrown about to no one in particular, his main target long gone.
Ignoring the fuming neko far behind them, Yuki walked on with as much poise and grace that he was able to pull off. Burying all the hurt he felt is a skill he has honed over the years…it will be no different this time around.
“Yuki-kun, what was in that bag?” asked Tohru curiously.
Looking down at their linked hands, Yuki turned his attention back to the walk ahead of them. Glancing briefly sideways through his long lashes at her choker, he recalled her words from before with Kyo.
“…I promise to never take it off.”
Feeling the dam give just a little under the pressure of his pain, he blinked his eyes to keep himself in check. Returning his gaze forward, he kept the mask of feigned serenity intact, never once allowing any lapse in his well-preserved wall. `Insignificant…in the end, that's all my feelings come to be. That's how they ought to be…so long as she's happy.'
Clenching his jaw, he breathed in heavily and turned to her with a wide smile. “It's of no importance, Tohru-san. None at all. Let's hurry before the baka neko realizes that he's yelling at thin air.”
“Hai.” Quickening her steps, Tohru hurried along with Yuki, trying very hard to ignore the small voice inside that told her that there was more going on that she's not grasping. `Still, I have to trust Yuki-kun…he would never lie to me. Right?'
Turning contemplative as her companion, she walked on quietly, subconsciously tightening her grip of his hand with her own…as if reassuring herself that all is well. She distantly heard the cries of her other companion, his obscenity-laden comments leaving many onlookers gawking. Yet they didn't even faze the primary target of his comments who continued walking with a purpose but also offered his dry comments as casually as the winds that blew through the spring air.
Oblivious to Tohru's passing thought, another onlooker gazed at the three with a degree of trepidation. He retraced their steps carefully and came to the trashcan Yuki had dumped the bag in. Reaching in, he pulled out the bag and opened it, staring at its broken contents with forlorn.
`No…I won't let this stay the way it is. If I do nothing else for you, this I promise you.'
“The teacher never knew what hit him. Seriously, your rabid fan freaks were too set on getting your socks from the teacher's back pocket to even care about how they practically ambushed and attacked the poor sap! Hehehe, you should have seen the teacher's face!” Laughing heartily, Kakeru leaned heavily against the bathroom wall as he tried to catch his breath from relaying his latest tale with the Yuki Sohma Fan Club.
Seeing Yuki quietly washing his face continually with cold water, Kakeru let his laughter die out prematurely. Bumping his head against the wall, he let out an exasperated sigh at not being able to derive a reaction from his quiet friend. He had tried to engage him in some form of conversation ever since Yuki arrived on campus, only to be met with a resilient wall of silence. Now that they had a few minutes to themselves, Kakeru had tried to lighten the mood, but that didn't prove effective either.
Deciding to get a better look at his silent companion, Kakeru noted that thankfully Yuki's injuries were improving. Although the bruising on his cheek looked more pronounce now than before, it was merely a sign that it was fading away. The foundation his poor superior had to wear was doing its job quite well (before Yuki had washed it off), not that Kakeru would ever voice that out loud (doing so would shorten his lifespan somewhat, and he did look forward to graduating that day). He also noted that Yuki was not limping as badly as before…no doubt his sprain had improved as well.
`Hell, the guy is a walking model…he can look like he'd been run over by a garbage truck, and he'd still manage to swoon everyone with his looks.' Shaking his head from his drifting thoughts, Kakeru stared further, still waiting for some kind of response from the quiet young man. `Well, if the mountain doesn't come to Buddha…or whatever…how does that saying go? Anyway…'
“Yun-Yun…have you no pearls of wisdom you would wish to bestow on your most loyal assistant today? Hm?” Not sensing any reply forthcoming, Kakeru grew annoyed at being ignored. `Damn, I didn't want to do this, but desperate times call for quick measures…er, that doesn't sound right. Argh, no matter…'
“Ahem, YUN-YUN, THERE'S A GIRL BEHIND YOU!” cried out Kakeru loudly in Yuki's ear. Sure enough, the quiet youth sprang to life…literally.
“GAH!!!” blurted out Yuki in shock as he flattened himself against the wall opposite of Kakeru, all too ready to prevent a minor catastrophe as allowing a female to get too close to him. Seeing no one else in the restroom other than Kakeru, he turned his full attention to the prankster.
Seeing that he now had Yuki's full attention (if the glares of death were any clue), Kakeru happily remarked, “Yun-Yun…you are here with me! To think you were ignoring me…”
“What the hell were you thinking?! That's not a funny joke!” spat out Yuki angrily.
“Now, now, my dear. I had told you all about my day and you barely give me a blink,” replied Kakeru assuredly with a pout. “Short of burning the bathroom down, I decided to get your attention the best way I knew how. Really, if anyone knew how petrified you are about having any girl that's not Tohru comes in contact with you…”
“That's enough!” remarked firmly Yuki. Sighing heavily, he slouched over the sink once more, breathing in heavily so as to calm his frayed nerves a bit. “Listen, I'm sorry. I just got a lot on my mind…and…”
“And…?” prodded Kakeru with interest.
Closing his eyes momentarily, Yuki shrugged away the overbearing emotions. “Nothing…it's not important.”
Sensing that he wasn't about to elaborate in the least of what's truly bothering him, Kakeru thought better than to broach the subject any further. Yet, there was something that he could talk with him…
“Hey, don't sweat it. By the way, there's high demand to know where you are continuing your academic education.” With a sly smirk, Kakeru mentally gave himself a pat on the back for this latest scheme. “I've been giving them good leads in exchange for some `donations', but I think they are starting to doubt my good intentions. Just so that you'd know.”
`Dear God,' thought Yuki dismally to himself, barely trying to fathom the ideas Kakeru may have come up with. `What did I expect anyway? He is really just trying to help…making a buck while at it, but just the same…'
“Hey, can I have a look-see at your speech? Hmmm?” pleaded in earnest Kakeru.
“Not a chance in hell!” remarked Yuki irately. “I don't need you milking anyone out of their money anymore by handing out copies of my speech.”
“You crush my heart and soul, Yun-Yun. Wait `til I tell Kimi and the others of your lack of faith in your followers…they'll join me in my plight for innocence,” replied the youth with `tears' cascading down his eyes.
“What innocence, baka?” Not bothering to glare at the wayward youth anymore, Yuki dried his hands and face with a towel, endeavoring to bring his strayed thoughts and bruised feelings together in a mesh that wouldn't leave him with a migraine. Wincing slightly, he stared at the small cuts his hands had from handling the broken shards. `Perfect. Now how am I going to hide these from Akito?'
Seeing the look of consternation on the youth's face, Kakeru softly remarked, “You look tired.”
Ready to glare at him once more, Yuki turned to Kakeru and found that he was actually serious in his remark. Not knowing how to reply to the concerned remark, he glanced away and finished drying his face. Sighing heavily, he quietly mumbled into the towel, “Hai.”
Absently running his hand behind his head, Kakeru let out a sigh of his own. “Well, I worked it all out like you told me to, so you don't have to worry about today's arrangements. We got everything pretty well done…it'll be fine.”
Nodding to confirm that he heard him, Yuki laid the towel down on the sink. He then brought his hand to his face, exerting as much pressure as he could to his temples where the migraine was making itself known in full force.
“Do you need anything? I can get something from the nurse's office real quick,” offered Kakeru gently, knowing how much Yuki hated to take any medication and would willfully deny needing it. Yuki certainly didn't disappoint him with his next comment.
“Iie. I'm fine,” replied the ailing youth firmly. Panting slightly, he sniffled and swallowed back the lump in his throat to hold back the bile that was threatening to come forth. Anxiety never came easily to Yuki's health, and with all the stress he's had to endure recently, it was unfortunately rearing its ugly head in all its glory on this remarkable day.
Kakeru soaked a small towel in hot water, then wringed it to leave it damp. Placing the towel on the back of Yuki's neck, he grabbed another towel and did the same with it. Taking the second towel, he brought it against Yuki's forehead. “Here…hold it.”
`This isn't lookin' good…' was Kakeru's worried thought as he gazed into Yuki's pale green pallor. `Damn, he's getting worse by the minute. Wait…he's not…is he?'
“Whoa, hey man. If you need to, go right ahead. Hell, as often as you take your medication, I'm surprised you don't throw up as often.” Patting him gently on the back, he grinned and remarked, “Hey, it's cool. We all get the jitters before a big speech. It's normal.”
Trying to smile at Kakeru's attempt to get his mind of his troubles, Yuki focused his breathing in order to calm himself. Throwing up was definitely that last thing he wanted to do since it always left his throat sore and dry and could possibly flair up his bronchi more than it already was. He was certainly damning his body in more ways than one for its ineptitude to physically deal with…anything.
Kakeru saw that Yuki was heavily breathing and was struggling to gain control of his body's reactions despite imminent failure. “Hey, just get it over with…you'll feel lots better.”
Shaking his head, Yuki bit out between breaths, “N-no…I ca—I can't. It'll just…get worse…for me.”
Before Kakeru had a chance to reply, Yuki's body once again betrayed him and soon expelled its unwanted contents into the sink. Yuki convulsed as his body intermittently expelled itself, not allowing the youth to regain any self-control over his body. Feebly reaching up to the faucets, he turned it on full blast, intent on letting it all drain away from his sight. Feeling the indignity of it all, he dared not to look up, too ashamed to see Kakeru at the moment.
“Yuki?” asked the youth to his side silently. Hearing only the running faucet and Yuki's heavy breathing, he pressed on. “Yuki…why are you throwing that up?”
Glancing down at the expelled fluids that were quickly draining away in the running water, he realized only then what Kakeru was referring to. To say he was shocked was an understatement. Just looking at it all drain away brought back his wave of intense nausea and soon he was once again expelling the thick liquid from his being.
(Huff, huff) `What is…all this?' Uncertain as to why he was having this problem, he frantically splashed his face and neck repeatedly with the rushing cold water from the faucet. Rinsing his mouth time and again, he took in heavy breaths, swallowing what he could from his dry mouth. `I have to calm down…I have to. I can't afford to have an attack now. (Huff, huff) Kakeru will then definitely track down my family. Then I'm really doomed.'
Sniffling and slightly coughing, Yuki firmly responded, “It looks worse than it really is, Kakeru. It's nothing new…for me anyway.” `Well, that's not a lie…not really…'
Looking down on Yuki with a sad countenance, Kakeru merely nodded in understanding. “Do you need me to get your family doctor…he's out there now, right?”
“NO!” cried out Yuki abruptly. Hugging his abdomen, he breathed in calmly to stem the urge once more. He then licked his very dry lips and blinked his eyes to regain his lost focus. Turning to Kakeru, he replied, “Don't. I…I don't need them worrying about me right now. (Sniffling) I'll be fine…just give me a few minutes. It's passing.”
“Yuki…you don't have to do this. I'm sure I can give a smashing speech in your place,” commented Kakeru wryly.
Smiling gratefully, Yuki breathed in and out heavily, focused on bringing his body back to some sense of order. Washing his face once more and thoroughly rinsing his mouth, he calmly replied, “Thanks, but I don't think that'll go over well with the majority out there. It's fine…a few minutes is all that I need.”
“I guess,” said Kakeru with a heavy sigh. “Here, let me get you more towels.”
Relaxing somewhat, Yuki allowed his mind to drift as he leaned his head against the cool surface of the mirror. Taking a look at himself, he grimaced at the image before him. Puffy red eyes and runny nose, skin as white as the paper the speech was typed on, and hair flat with water.
`Yeah…I'll be able to convince everyone that I'm fine,' thought Yuki as he drowned in his own sarcasm. He softly remarked to himself forlornly, “This may not work out after all…”
Turning to gaze at Yuki fully, Kakeru checked him over and smiled widely. “Sure it will. You look marvelous. I'm too green with envy, can't you tell?”
Surprised at his remark, Yuki couldn't help but laugh lightly, shaking his head at the absurdity of it all. Sniffling, her ran his hands under the faucet to wipe his face clean some more before shutting it off. “Yeah, only you would be envious of my swollen face.”
“My dear Yun-Yun, you could have run into a brick wall and be swollen from head to toe, and you'd still look beyond beautiful. I'm sure many would agree with me.” Continuing to smile widely at Yuki, Kakeru placed cool damp towels on the youth's neck and face. “These should bring down your becoming blush. Just keep on breathing calmly.”
“M-hm,” agreed Yuki, thankful that he was now a bit more at ease and his body wasn't completely betraying him on this day. His head still throbbed, but he was able to cope just a little better with it at the moment. He honestly didn't wish anyone to see him in this condition, but since it was just Kakeru, he felt assured that Kakeru would say nothing of the matter to anyone, least of all comment as to what he exactly saw in his bodily fluids.
`Hatori would have a fit if he saw me now. Come to think of it, does he know about this? I mean, I get more checkups than many students here put together. What does he know?' Steeling himself at those thoughts, Yuki cleared his mind and breathed in calmly as before. He shyly remarked, “Thanks…for everything.”
“Heh, well, just give a speech that won't have me sleeping through the first ten seconds, and then we can call it even,” replied Kakeru happily, continuing to dampen the towels in cool water for him.
“Yeah, right.” Drying his hair with a dry towel, Yuki pondered on that comment some more. He wondered if he could really give his speech as he had intended. Outward appearances aside, he really felt shoddy, and frankly, he just wanted to go home.
`Warm, cozy, comfortable bed…and complete silence. That sounds really good right about now.' Going into one of the stalls, he took some toilet paper and cleaned his stuffy nose. His thoughts then turned to the inevitable… `Yeah, silent. And she won't be there anymore. I'll just be…alone…'
“Kakeru, could you just go on and have them start the ceremony? Don't let them wait for me.” Coughing a bit and sniffling slightly, he heaved a heavy sigh as he leaned against the cool tiled wall. Closing his eyes to the bright lights of the restroom, he crossed his arms across his abdomen, wishing to every known star that his nausea would go away. Sighing heavily, he added, “I'll be there soon. I just…(sniffle)…I just want to be alone for a little bit.”
“Are you sure you're not just going to take off on me? Hmmm?” asked Kakeru with a gleam in his eye. “You know if all you need is some cover, I can come up with some interesting methods of gaining the audience's attention…”
“No,” replied Yuki with a stare that pinned the youth to his spot, causing said youth to have a shiver run down his spine. Confident that his silent reprimand was taken to heart, he closed his eyes once more to the world that continued to swirl around in his vision.
Sighing in defeat, Kakeru grabbed the used towels and placed them in the hamper. He was silently grateful that these gym restrooms had ample supplies of towels—they sure went through quite a load. As he was about to voice another original idea to his friend, he looked up and saw how Yuki was quietly breathing in the dark corner of the room, lost once again in his private thoughts.
`Hiding like a mouse…kawaii…' Kakeru thought with a grin. Deciding to leave Yuki to himself so that he could pull himself together, Kakeru walked to the door and opened it. Before he left, he called out over his shoulder, “Yuki…whatever it is, it'll get better.” `It just has to.' And with a smile, he left.
Slightly lifting his heavy eyelids to see the closing door, Yuki thought that over. `I suppose he's right. It's not like everything is completely dismal in this world…besides my heaving and vomiting body plus a migraine to end all migraines. It's ridiculous to get myself so worked up. (Sniffles lightly) I should have known that my body would eventually cave in with everything that's happened. How pathetic... And loe and behold, I had to have a witness to it all. (Heavily sighs) It could have been worse, though. I just really need a break…but for now, I need to pull it together to get through today. It'll be fine…it'll be fine.'
Swallowing what little saliva he had left in his dry mouth, he rubbed his eyes and sighed for the umpteenth time. “I am not going to be able to do this speech…I just can't. And I honestly don't care…” Sliding down to the cold floor, he brought his knees up and curled himself into the corner, a position he always did as a child when he was upset. It didn't even alarm him that maybe someone would barge in and find him like this.
“Just a little while…just until the nausea goes away. Just for a few minutes…that's all…”
The paths in life
Are very difficult to go through
Difficult to walk through
I cannot find my way through it…
“Are they almost done? I'm about to die of boredom here.”
“Now children, this isn't the time…”
“Shii-chan! Are you sure Yuki's gonna give a speech? I don't see him anywhere on that stage!”
“Dear Momiji-kun, my beloved Yuki wouldn't dare disappoint his Nii-san! Why, I have it on good authority that his speech is of the highest caliber. Although I still think he should have at least used a bit of my old class speech…now that had the audience clamoring for more!”
“Ayame, that speech had them clamoring to drag you off stage. Now everyone, be silent…you're causing a distraction.”
“Haa-san, what distraction is there? We're all whispering.”
“Gure-san, I couldn't agree with you more! Tori-san, don't worry so much! No one's paying any attention to us anyway!”
`Tell that to the four rows of people in front of us.'
“Ayame-ojiiisan, are you sure Yuki-niisan will be making his speech soon? Momiji-niisan is right…he's not up onstage. I thought that he'd be up there by now.”
“Now, my dear Kisa-chan, don't you worry. Yuki-kun will grace us with his stunning appearance real soon. Did you take enough pictures of Tohru-kun and Kyo-kun before the ceremony started?”
“Yeah…like a dozen. Kisa, you know you're gonna run out of film before the end of the ceremony if you keep taking pictures without pacing yourself.”
“You're such a worrier, Hiro. Hehe, or maybe you just want her to take a picture of the both of you together!”
“SSSSSHHHHHHH! We're at a ceremony for goodness sake!”
“Kagura, can you see from your seat? I have a better view if you'd like to switch.”
“I'm fine, arigatou Ri-chan.”
“You know, Ri-chan, I can't see at all. Your head is in the way.”
“Shii-chan, that wasn't funny!”
“Ne, Kagura, you have a good grip on your precious monkey there. But I do believe that breathing is very important, especially to Ri-chan. You do know he's starting to turn blue…
“Hehehe, keep shaking him, Kagura. I'm sure he'll come around eventually.”
“Ayame-ojiisan, do you want me to take pictures of Yuki-niisan when he's up onstage?”
“Darling Kisa-chan, bien sur…absolutement! I would be delighted if you would! Haa-kun, you are recording Yuki, ne?”
“Actually, I've been filming since we sat down…so I'm getting everything.”
“Can I have a turn, Haru? Can I?”
“Be quiet, baka usagi…you're starting a distraction.”
Me? You're the one causing the distraction when you're making ga-ga eyes at Kisa!”
“Yes, of course, thank you!”
“Ri-chan, you're in the way again…”
“Um, excuse me, you are all creating a commotion. I'm going to have to ask you all to leave…”
“Heh, I don't think so.”
“Haru! We'll be silent…we promise!”
“I'm afraid not…”
“I assure you as their `guardian' (`God help me') that I'll keep them under better control.”
“Hari to the rescue!”
“Haa-san is always the responsible one.”
“Tori-san, could you get that usher to get us some drinks? Really, I'm parched!”
“You're under an umbrella and have a battery-powered fan on you plus you have a cold water bottle next to you. How can you possibly be parched, Ayame?”
“With Aya, anything's possible.”
“This is obviously not working out. I really need you all to just quietly…”
“We're not moving.”
“Um, Haru…are you okay?”
“Now see here, young man…”
“One more peep out of you, and I swear I'm gonna start kickin' asses…got it?
“Haa-kun, you scared the poor sap off. Nicely done!”
`We're not going to last to hear Yuki's speech at this rate.' Hatori contemplated how he had come to sit in the last few rows with his family for the ceremony…what did possess him to agree to be back here with them? He then looked over to Shigure speaking animatedly with Ayame (no longer whispering) and remembered. `Ah, yes, mix those two together and add the others, and Lord help everyone within hearing range.'
“Ne, Haa-san, you are silent. Does something vex you?” asked Shigure with a smirk.
With a deadpan look, Hatori narrowed his gaze on his mischievous relative. “You know, something tells me that you're causing this ruckus on purpose.”
“Haa-san, you think ill of me? I'm crushed,” pouted Shigure in offense.
“There, there, Gure-san. I'm the shoulder for you to cry on,” consoled Ayame as he patted the writer's shoulder.
“Am I wrong?” challenged Hatori.
“Hehe, you know me too well,” grinned Shigure sheepishly. “Mou, I'm with Hiro—it's dead boring just sitting here hearing them up onstage gabbing away pointlessly. Don't they know no one cares to listen…I sure didn't when I was graduating.”
“Sshh, lower your voice,” admonished Hatori. `God, at this rate we'll be forcibly removed…'
“Gure-san, surely you're not including my precious Yuki with those less fortunate!” cried out Ayame in barely veiled alarm.
“Ayame…lower your voice,” stressed the doctor irately.
“Of course not, Aya!” Shigure loudly whispered back. “I did help the little mouse with it after all. And you know I have works of art in my writing.”
`Can his head get any bigger?' Turning his attention far away from his company, Hatori looked all around him to see that mostly everyone was paying attention to the ceremony (minus the last four rows…death glares were all that he saw there).
It then came to his attention that there were quite a number of members from the `outside' Sohma family. Of course, most of the `inside' members were here, but Hatori didn't honestly count on this many from the `outside' to come to the ceremony. He had been told to expect this by Kureno since many of them had asked Akito about Yuki's graduation ceremony. Still, it was quite a sight to behold. A good portion of the crowd was Sohma, thus the whole place was packed.
`I swear that I've never seen this much interest in the Nezumi of the Jyuunishi before…at least, not from the `outside' family. You'd think they knew about his special `condition'. Poor Yuki…wherever he breathes, he's just a big magnet—for the good and bad. Still, the family's dominant presence will only make Yuki more self-conscious…he barely contained himself when most of them gave him monies as gifts. Not that he needed anymore really—his personal account is more than enough to sustain him comfortably through college and beyond. That is if he decides to go later on. When will he tell the others about it? Making me swear to secrecy is only prolonging the inevitable…'
Running his hand through his long bangs in exasperation, he leaned back and listened to the droning speakers up onstage. `Shigure and Hiro weren't kidding…this is boring. I can hardly make any sense of what they say. (Sigh) It is strange, though…Yuki isn't up onstage. He should be there by now. Come to think of it, I don't see her either…'
“Shigure, where is she?” whispered Hatori lowly for his ears only.
It was a question Shigure himself had been asking himself. There were so many people here that it was clashing with his unique ability to track down his special `god'. Shutting his eyes momentarily, he used his honed talent to fixate her location.
“She's over in a corner somewhere,” grinned the inu impishly as he gazed at the crowd before them. “Don't know exactly where…there's just too many people here. But never fear, Haa-san, she'll make her presence known to Yuki when he's up there. Then he'll know, then we'll know.”
“How do you figure that?” asked Hatori.
“The nezumi never strays far from `god'. It's absolutely impossible.” Shigure didn't bother hiding the smile that was wider than ever. “He'll know where she is exactly without a problem. He'll be sure to glance her way—he just can't help himself not to. Then we'll know. Pretty nice arrangement, ne?”
Frowning on that remark, Hatori turned his attention once more to the ceremony taking place. He could catch a glimpse of the graduates he knew well plus their friends. All seemed confused and bewildered at something since they constantly whispered with one another.
Seeing his old friend lost in his private musings, Shigure tried to grasp his attention once more. “Haa-san, you're frowning again. You are certainly going to worry yourself to an old age before your time. I for one am looking forward to Yuki's speech and after the ceremony. It will prove to be…eventful, ne?”
“Only you would get excited over the distress of others,” dryly remarked his companion that refused to look at him.
Gasping dramatically, Shigure leaned heavily on Hatori's shoulder. “Why Haa-san, so blunt…so cruel…”
“So true. Get off me.” Shrugging the inu off, Hatori glanced at his surroundings once more, determined to find the missing Sohma teen. Checking his watch, he let out a heavy sigh and softly remarked, “If Yuki doesn't appear in five minutes, I'm going to go look for him.”
“Now, be reasonable, Haa-san,” whispered Shigure, careful that their conversation doesn't reach the ears of the bubbly snake who was busy conversing with the monkey. “Nothing is the matter. All is well…you don't want to give the impression that something's the matter, ne? I mean, you have Aya on one hand, and on the other hand, you have a rather obsessive `god'. Talk about having your hands full. You don't want either of them to get the mere idea that something's wrong with our nezumi. It'll be sure pandemonium.”
“Don't tell me you're actually concerned with how Akito will react? It's never stopped you before to push her to the limits…” remarked lightly Hatori.
“Mou, Haa-san, you are exceptionally cruel today. I don't deserve such reprimands…I'm actually being genuinely concerned,” wailed Shigure with his `river' of tears flowing down his face.
“Gure-san! What ails you, my poor inu?” called out loudly Ayame as he held his cousin close.
“Hold me!” cried out Shigure inconsolably.
`He is utterly impossible. Still, he's right…if I start getting worried, others will notice. And I can't handle both Akito and Ayame at the same time.' Running his hand again through his hair in building frustration, he wondered what could be taking Yuki so long to appear.
`Dammit, this is taking forever,' thought Kyo bitterly as he tried to remain awake during the droning speeches of the class officials. He had been squirming in his seat, discreetly of course, and he was now beyond the limits of his patience. First, sitting idly was never a good thing for him, and second, he really needed to use the private facilities. Booboo's Backup can only do so much…
`Damn that rat! First he does this to me, and now he's making us all sweat out here. DAMMIT!' Grinding his teething in anger, he sat silently brooding at his delicate predicament. Turning to Tohru who sat next to him, he whispered irately, “Where the hell is the baka nezumi?!”
Shaking her head, Tohru shrugged her shoulders in response. “I don't know. Maybe there's something else going on that he's busy taking care of. I'm sure he'll be out here soon.”
“Damn, I hope it's soon `cause the village idiots up on stage can't give a speech worth crap,” remarked Uo wryly. “They're now telling jokes…how lame is that?”
“Sohma Yuki is nowhere in the near vicinity. His waves are presently indistinct,” calmly replied Hana.
Twisting her hands together on her lap, Tohru wondered what could be the hold up. `Maybe it had something to do with this morning… I mean, I thought I felt something strange. But he was so calm and kind…just like always.'
“At this rate, I'm gonna melt into a puddle of goo!” exclaimed Uo a bit loudly. Smacking Kyo soundly from around Tohru's head, she cried out in a loud whisper, “Hey, Orangey, what the hell is up with your relative?! Get off your sorry ass and find him, moron!”
“He's not mine to look after, Yankee!!” cried out in an equally loud whisper Kyo. “If you're so interested in finding him, you get up and look for him!”
“Ano, maybe I should go…” butt in Tohru softly before Uo interjected.
Uo held Tohru firmly in her chair. “Hell no, Tohru. Let the `man' handle this. Go, Orangey, or I swear I'm gonna start ripping your arms out of your sockets!
“Feh, I'd like to see ya try, ya damn bi—OOMPH.” The sudden embrace of an exuberant teen suddenly cut off Kyo's remark. He turned irately to the intruder, only to be surprised at whom it turned out to be. “Geez, what the hell are ya doin' here baka usagi? You're supposed to be back there!”
“EH?! Momiji-kun, how did you get here?!” replied Tohru agitatedly.
“SSSHHH!” was the overall response from those around them.
Unabashedly Momiji cheerily remarked, “I walked here. So, what are you guys doing? I'm tired of sitting down…when can we get this ceremony going along? How long is it gonna last? Where's Yuki? Did you get a shave this morning, Kyo? Oh, hey, I heard from Shii-chan that you had a problem in the bathroo—.” (Glomp)
Clamping his hand across Momiji's mouth, Kyo held onto the not-so-little usagi fiercely in his embrace, determined to quell any further comments from the teen's lips. Either that or the students around them were about to roast the two together in their growing embers of rage for their intrusion on this ceremony.
“God, you're gonna get us hammered, you fool! Keep it down!” exclaimed the neko heatedly to the usagi's ear. Looking up to the stage, he clearly saw his Sensei's disapproving glare that was aimed his way. `Damn…I'm graduating, and I still get in trouble with the old hag!'
Momiji suddenly turned in Kyo's tight embrace, beaming brightly and mumbling incoherently into his palm.
“What is it now?!” bit out Kyo through clenched teeth as he removed his hand.
“He's here!” whispered Momiji excitedly. “Now we can get this whole party moving forward!”
“Huh?” asked Kyo still confused. `What the hell is he talkin' about?'
Tohru couldn't help but wonder herself. “Who, Momiji-kun?”
“Oh, hey, Hanajima…feelin' okay there?” asked Uo to the suddenly hunched over form of Hana.
“It is passing,” mumbled quietly the dark-haired Hana. `These waves…they are…immense…too much…'
“Hehe, look up Hanajima…the goofballs on stage are dying up there,” replied Uo lowly with a snicker.
`Where is my Yun-Yun???!!! I'm gonna get lynched by the mob out here! And I've already lost the interest of Yun-Yun's relatives way in the back. They look like they're having a party back there…mou, I want to be there. It beats standing up here like a martyr…' Grinning brightly enough to light up the sky, Kakeru turned to his trusty accomplice and remarked into the mic, “Ahem, now Kimi, do try harder this time around. Prove to us that Kaibara High is known for its excellence in academics. So…I am thinking of a number…”
“Hmmm…” pondered in consternation Kimi. “Um, 2?”
Sighing heavily, Kakeru let's his head bow down in shame. “Let's try something else. Um, how about we talk about the excellent goals we set out for ourselves. Uh, let's start with you!”
“Me?!” shrieked Kimi in astonishment. “I just want to get off of here!”
`Oh boy…' He groaned loudly and thumping his head on the podium. Immediately perking up with the grin that rivaled the sun once again on his face, he called out to his captive audience, “All right, now who wants to know how Kaibara High has helped me to reach my academic goals? Eh? Anyone…anyone…?”
`Man, they are choking.' Rubbing her temple with her forefingers, Mayuko couldn't help but smile sardonically at the rather hilarious predicament her soon-to-be former students found themselves in. She had already had to placate her restless students down below with her landmark glares, but for the students up here… `Maybe I should end this now. Yuki seems to be a no-show and now my boss is looking at me…' However, as soon as the thought crossed her mind, the resolution to her problem dropped in from seemingly out of nowhere. `Finally!'
“Now for another trivia moment with our dear, sweet Kimi. Um…Kimi? Where did you go?” questioned Kakeru as he started to frantically search for his assistant. Facing his impatient audience, he grinned half-heartedly. “Um, I, uh…seemed to have misplaced my accomplice…um, I mean my assistant. Yeah…okay…I'll…be right back…”
Turning abruptly, he practically ran away from there, only to run into a solid object. Rubbing his sore nose, he looked at the roadblock that looked rather familiar to him. Blinking his watery eyes to focus, he gasped in delight.
“DEAR GOD, THANK YOU!!!! THANK YOU FOR SENDING DOWN OUR FAIR PRINCE!!!” he cried out with joy as he fiercely hugged his roadblock.
“Kakeru…I can't…breathe,” Yuki quietly remarked to the oblivious and overjoyed teen. “You do remember that I'm not…well?”
“Gah, yeah! Sorry about that!” hurriedly remarked Kakeru while removing his hold on Yuki. Reaching out to straighten Yuki's jacket, he quickly noted that his pallor was not as pale as before but still a bit flushed. He whispered silently, “Ne, are you sure you want to go through with this?”
`Actually no, but that's not going to help anyone. (Sigh) Ah well…' Bringing himself out of his thoughts, Yuki softly smiled and walked past Kakeru, pausing only momentarily to softly reply, “I'm here now…unless you want to handle the mob…”
Certainly enough, Kakeru quickly ran to his seat behind the podium and sat poised to listen to Yuki with rapture. Heaving a big sigh, Yuki walked calmly to the podium and looked out to his grand audience, inwardly amazed at the sheer number of Sohma family members that were present. Of course, he couldn't make out the faces due to the constant blinding lights of cameras that were flashing away.
`Maybe I should have brought sunglasses,' he mused to himself as he lightly rubbed his eyes. It was then that he suddenly felt the pull to look up over to his far right. Perusing through the river of familiar and unknown faces, his eyes finally settled on the eyes of another that pierced straight through his own gaze.
“And here you doubted me, Haa-san,” whispered Shigure quietly to Hatori's ear, of which Hatori merely `hmphed' in response. Then it occurred to the writer… `Hm, is it just me or did our nezumi just bowed his head in reverential respect to our `god'? That is certainly…a development. Both good and bad…'
Oblivious to the rampant thoughts of others around him, Yuki turned his gaze back to his captive audience, all very eager to hear what he has to say. Either that or they really just want to get this whole thing over with. A mere glance to his Jyuunishi family and to his classmates below where a neko's death glares were being sent his way were proof enough of their anxiousness to get this ceremony over with.
“Ahem,” he cleared his throat. Placing the written document on the podium, he leaned over the mic and smiled widely to the entire audience, which only resulted in more camera flashes than before. “Thank you. Really…that's very nice of you. For the families and friends of the graduating class, my name is Sohma Yuki. I wish to thank all of you for your presence and patience with us today. I personally wish to thank the entire group of volunteers in our student body who took care of making all the arrangements and preparations necessary for this ceremony to be a success.”
(Clap, clap, clap)
“Thank you so much. As I'm sure that many of you would like to personally extend your congratulations to the graduates before me, please allow me a few more minutes of your time to speak with all of you.”
“In my hands I hold a teacher-approved, college-grade speech. It took me many months of preparation and pain-staking effort, along with countless sleepless nights. I even resorted to taking advice from a dog.”
Shigure could only smirk at Yuki's shy smile on this lighthearted remark. The others next to him could only give him knowing winks and nudges to the ribs as they laughed good-naturedly along with the general audience.
“However, despite all this, I…I don't wish to give this speech anymore.” Yuki paused here as the low murmurs could be heard throughout the audience. As he gazed down upon Tohru and the others, he sadly smiled for only a moment that no one could catch. Turning his attention back to his audience, he continued on with determination clear in his eyes.
“It's been drilled into all of us of how important our scholastic achievements that we've worked so hard on in high school will carry us through to our chosen goals in life. `Get the right education in high school and in college, and you will have a greater chance of a successful career.' It's an ideal that has been pressed into our minds since we first walked into the halls of this high school, and it's the ideal that is pressed into our minds as we graduate.”
“Countless hours have been spent by many a student to work towards this goal, many going so far as attending cram school to fulfill their personal goals of scholastic achievement. Others chose to augment their goals by participating in clubs and sports of all sorts.”
“Still, this grand ideal is not something I personally hold in high esteem.” Low murmuring amongst the audience caused Yuki to pause momentarily. Expecting this reaction, he smiled fondly and continued on unabated.
“18 years—the majority of which were spent in some educational institution. A good education is important…we all need it, and it is highly regarded when you apply for a job, either now or later on in life. Yet, the majority of what we remember these past 18 years are not found in some scholastic education.”
“I ask that the graduating class take a look around them. All the faces you see that belong to family and friends…this is what you should remember. They say it's always the little things that matter most in life. Your family and friends played a big role in that these past 18 years…doing so many little things in your life that you probably didn't even realize it. From helping us learn how to ride a bike to learning how to tell time on a clock. From learning how to tie our laces right to learning our ABC's plus our 123's. From overcoming difficult challenges of other kids picking on you to helping you dress up for a night at a Prom Dance with all your friends. And even the simple act of picking you up when you've been knocked down.”
“As we reflect on all our memories these past 18 years, we see that many are wonderful experiences that we cherish…and then there are those memories that are not as pleasant to the mind. Still, good or bad, all these memories and experiences make us who we are today. And we will continue to carry them with us as we look forward to our future that awaits us after today.”
“Looking back, we've come so far from where we once were, and to think that we still have so much to look forward to later in life. Wherever this continuing journey called life may lead us after today, be it to some prestigious university, or to joining the workforce, or to simply settle down with that one special companion, let us not forget all our experiences that got us there in the first place.”
“If nothing else, this I'll remember. Having a fantastic job and contributing to society in general is important, but not the ultimate objective. Personally, I hope to carry with me both the wonderful experiences…as well as the scars of yesterday…in order to make me a better person in the end. I truly wish…to become a better person…for myself and for my family. Now that's an achievement to be truly proud of.”
“It has not been easy these past 18 years…many of you would probably agree that it's the same with you. And I have it on good authority that it's not going to get any easier. But there's that one small thing…hope. In the end, that's the one precious thread that has gotten us this far. It is a delicate thread that weaves itself around each one of us, binding us together with our family and friends.”
“Hope is worth holding onto, no matter how bleak our paths may seem at the time. It is a constant light that will guide us through the darkest of hours—and if it comes down to it, close family and friends will lend a hand along the way, just as they always had before.”
As we go on
We remember
All the times we
Had together
Softly smiling at this statement, he looked out to his family including Tohru, but specifically to his Jyuunishi family. How true that statement was to them after so many years of strife and despair. Images flitted through his mind of all the heartache that he endured in his early life at the main house, the constant battles fought on an emotional level with his tattered heart. The sorrow that defined his life for a long time was also seen in the lives of his Jyuunishi family back then.
Yet, all that was swept away as he gazed into their faces once more from the podium. It may have been a momentary pause to his audience, but it seemed like time stood still in that one moment. From the depths of depression to the faint gleam of hope—that is what they all shared now. And even though the road ahead will continue to be rough, they know that they have each other to pull through it together. After all, they were family…now and always.

And as our lives change
Come whatever
We will still be
Friends Forever
`So help me, I will be there for them.' Stilling in his thoughts for an instant, the faces of individuals that he had never gotten along before came before his eyes…Kyo, Rin…Akito. Would he…?
`Yes, I would. For all of them…' Smiling brightly, he concluded in a steady tone, “To hope is to believe, even when you've been given every reason not to. I have faith that in doing so, I will succeed…maybe not academically or in society, but in life. And that truly is the greatest achievement anyone can hope to attain.”
With that final remark, Yuki stepped back and bowed slightly to his audience. In spite of the heavy silence in the air following his speech, he turned on his heel and gracefully walked away from the podium, never once looking back, all the while satisfied that he was able to speak the truth that he truly believed in with all his heart.
`I will succeed in life…I will…'
Author's View from a really small window…(08-12-05):
Once again I'm here to grace your presence with the fic that just won't end! Konnichiwa to all!
Thank you for the wonderful reviews thus far! I'm really calling out to all my readers to bless me with your thoughts on my first ever fic that's turning into epic proportions. Your input is always read and cherished!
Onward with the story!
Yuki…Yuki, Yuki, Yuki… Boy, did he ever give me trouble! That segment with Yuki's one-sided POV really was HARD! I rewrote the portion over and over and over again. After several weeks of editing, it finally came out to what I had hoped to accomplish. Angst, turmoil, a sense of hopelessness…pretty good!
“Paths In Life” is actually an old Spanish song that I translated the choral lyrics. I do really like them since they are very truthful. You can't help but see truth in the words when you're up against life's roadblocks. Using the lyrics in this scenario was quite fitting, and so, here they are. Hopefully no one will mind if I leave these up here!
Kakeru and Yuki's bonding moment…sort of my last hoorah for the two! Not a true bonding moment, but I did want to show how much respect Kakeru has for Yuki up `til now and how much Yuki understands him, in a way.
As far as ailments go, that has always been a `backseat' sort of thing. It's not a true main focal point in the storyline, but it's to be considered because at times it may affect how our dear nezumi reacts under certain situations (good example in this scene). So hopefully I won't get too many worried reviewers wondering what I did to our dear Yuki—it's really just a progressive turn of events on this aspect of the story that I'm sure many have laid aside in their minds. We'll see in the summer (hopefully, if my fic is still requested!) segment how this particular aspect of Yuki's health comes into play. So yep, this is a cliffie for y'all! (Please hate me…I am evil.)
The Sohma's are back with a whirlwind of mischief…I hope the dialogue going back and forth didn't confuse you too much! It was meant to be going back and forth…they also had hints with each phrase as to who was actually saying it. Well, I tried it out anyway…we'll see how you like it!
There's also quite a bit of info here regarding the reaction between the Sohma family, Yuki, and Akito. It is important to note these moments now and later on…there is a connection in all of this. Even Tohru's reaction when she was with Yuki in the early part (her brush with the `cold') is significant…you'll just have to wait and see!
Now, I know I'm really late in getting this graduation portion put in. In real life, most people are starting school, not finishing it! Oh well, can't win them all! Anyway, the speech and the small reactions plus declarations throughout it were written many months ago and polished for this segment of the storyline. The part about `believing when you've been given every reason not to' is a phrase I heard from somewhere & I can't remember from where. Do help me with this one! It was a bit tough, but hopefully you'll like. Like with the other things, it's important that my readers perceive the underlying message in the speech. This theme was already being spread out in previous chapters, and in the summer segment, it will only become more prominent. What is the theme? Now come now, I can't reveal all my cards…not yet anyway. I think though that you'll figure it out if you haven't already done so!
Musical moments…well, the Spanish song is “Caminos de la Vida” by La Tropa Vallenata. And for the latter portion of the story, I had the classic all-American high school graduation theme song, “Friends Forever-Graduation” by Vitamin C. I debated as to whether or not I should include the choral lyrics on this last one, but I just couldn't let it go! Yep, these two were heavily listened to while putting this baby together!
As always, do critique me with the errors found here…or discrepancies or whatever! Just let me know!
Oh the reviews…I am soooo happy! Here's my reply from me to you, my dears!
Dark Inu Fan: Glad you like the choker idea—I'd like one if there is such a thing! What is his present? I think you now know that we'll never know. Hm, but is that even true? Someone sure means to help Yuki on this! Thank you for reviewing!
Zone-Out: Read nonstop, did you? I hope my fic didn't fry your brain too much! It tends to do that with all the twists and turns my fic goes through. I'm glad you're finally onboard…I do love reviews and I wish I had more, but that's wishful thinking. At least you're here now! Thank you!
Mcblueangel: Yes, I will reveal all in good time the mysteries that are everywhere…from Akito to Kyo to Tohru. Yep, someday I will tell all! I'm glad you liked how Tohru is stronger and copes better with her situation. I figured she would have to do some growing through the years…it happens to us all.
Anonymous Human: Hehe, thank you for reviewing. What will end up happening? The prologue is set in the future…all is explained in the summary of the story. I'm glad you still keep this in mind…it is important! And it's okay that you're unable to edit! I'm glad you would care to at least let me know. Anonymity is also important…I understand this and respect it fully. Thank you again for your kind words!
Miyabita (Miya-chan): Welcome aboard! My wonderful and too good to be true pal! You're a blessing, and I'm so thankful you're willing to edit for me! We'll `talk' more later!
Pika318: Thank you for still being here with me! I hope to continue making it worthwhile for you!
AnimeFreak749: Thanks to you for reading and for your support!
S.B. Kisses and Coiling Death: My wonderful and faithful reviewers from ages past…how I always cherish your thoughts with me! I always look forward to seeing your reviews. I'm glad the story still holds water with you guys…I'm so thrilled!
Furuba_fanatic749: Here's your update!
Yori-chan: I'm so thankful that you wait so patiently for my story updates! Please continue to bless me with your patience and understanding! Hope you like the extra Yuki moments in this release!
Kougalover123: When will the fic finish? Hm, well let's calculate: It's been a little over a year since I started. I just finished the `spring' segment. Summer and autumn are still left to be done…and the epilogue…whew. Lots left to be done, but I'd rather not think about it that way. I'll eventually work my way up to that point. And when I do, I'll give you a buzz if you're still interested!
Whew! What a slew of reviews! Thank you…thanks to all of you for being with me and for always supporting the fic. Truly, without you there would be no fic at all! TTFN for now! Until next week! Please bless me with your reviews…they are treasures for me to keep!